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Friday 27 April 2018

Brigid's rue Ring of fire

Clontarf grab late goal to deny Saints Dublin U15 'A' football title

CLONTARF 3-5

ST BRIGID'S 1-9

A 59th-minute goal from Daragh Ring proved pivotal as Clontarf overcame 13-man St Brigid's by two points in their Dublin U15 A Football Championship final at Parnell Park on Sunday lunchtime.

With St Brigid's bravely hanging onto their lead, handed to them by a sublime point from the excellent Kevin Callaghan in the 57th minute, Ring was on hand to fire home a scrambled goal from close range to prompt scenes of mass jubilation at the final whistle.

The defeat was tough on a St Brigid's side that defended heroically, especially after the break, but the Blanchardstown outfit were the architects of their own downfall in some respects following two needless dismissals in the first half.

Last year's county and national Féile winners opted to play with the elements in the opening half, and it didn't take long for them to open their account through a long-distance free by Callaghan in the first minute.

That lead was doubled within three minutes as Cian O'Sullivan landed a glorious score from the right wing and a clever Johnny McGuirk effort soon after reflected a positive opening by St Brigid's.

Clontarf were struggling to make inroads at this juncture, but received a much-needed boost when Ring got the deftest of touches to net after Alex Holmes had spilled a delivery from Nathan Doran in the seventh minute.

The match became increasingly tetchy as the half developed, with bookings being administered at regular intervals by referee Danny Harrington, but St Brigid's continued to dominate through a brace of frees from wing-forward Mark Donnelly.

With the contest punctuated by so many stoppages, it was scant surprise when Harrington reached for his red card in the 19th minute, with Malachy Tighe shown the line after an altercation at the sideline.

The numerical disadvantage did not appear to discomfort St Brigid's initially and they drove on courtesy of three successive points by Jack O'Neill, Donnelly and the impressive Darragh McKenna.

However, with half-time approaching, indiscipline cost them again, with Tadhg O'Shea receiving his second caution of the half as Brigid's entered the break leading by 0-8 to 1-0.

The leaders spurned some golden opportunities to build on that advantage upon the restart, but they were soon forgotten as McGuirk drove high to the net in the 36th minute after Michael Courtney's point attempt was half-blocked.

LIFELINE

With O'Neill, David Hawkshaw and David McCabe delivering immense defensive performances for St Brigid's, there appeared little chance of a Clontarf comeback, but they were handed a lifeline at the end of the third quarter as Rort Clarke crashed a spectacular finish past Holmes.

A point followed from Lillis as he converted from the rebound after Holmes had produced a breath-taking save to deny Clarke, but the momentum was firmly with Clontarf at this stage as they dominated primary possession.

Three points in as many minutes by Lillis, Patrick Smyth and Tom O'Flaherty brought Clontarf level, but, from isolated possession, Callaghan produced an outrageous score when he dummied before firing a sumptuous left-footed shot between the sticks for a timely and glorious score.

Sadly for St Brigid's, there was a sting in the tail with Ring in the right place at the right time to fire home, concluding an enthralling contest between these two well-matched rivals.

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